This could be the end of our world as we see it…
The eyes of our future are to be held at 48 frames-per-second and higher. Hollywood is still toying with the idea of whether to run movies with high frame rates (HFR) or to poke it with a stick and see what happens, but filmmakers such as Peter Jackson and James Cameron believe that we need to get to the future—faster.
With movies like Jackson’s The Hobbit: There and Back Again and Cameron’s Avatar movies, the film industry is striving to make movies in the same way we experience real life—as a fluid stream. And with movies set in Middle-earth and Pandora, filmmakers are vying for technologies that allow them to recreate and represent these worlds in a “truthful” manner—a world where we don’t just believe they exist…they exist.
Technically, this translates from shooting film at the original 24 fps to 48 fps and higher—in fact, Cameron sees us going to 60fps, and he means it because he is shooting his Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 in HFR back-to-back.
Visually, this translates to none of that flickering or blurring effect that occurs in regular movies at 24 fps and an experience that makes us feel no difference from our sphere to the screen. No more boundaries, so much space.
Financially, it’s an expensive journey meaning theates all over America need to have new equipment that goes with the HFR technology and in general, for the film industry, too.
Psychologically, this could translate to some mind-screwing. And depending how you take it, it can either be pain or pleasure. Before Jackson and Cameron, film pioneer Douglas Trumbull already figured out that 60 fps was the supposed spot to hit because that point generates the most response and provides viewers with the most stimulation.
Perhaps, this is why Jackson and Cameron want to hit HFR as much as they can because they want to blow our minds.
However, stimulation must be handled with care and not everyone has hands for it.
In other words, there have been complaints and worries about HFR. People have stated physical effects such as dizziness, eyesight problems and even motion sickness. Others have simply said it just looks cheap and plastic like a reality TV show, and they miss the beauty of “old” cinema. And just as many, have experienced traumas to their psyche. Viewers have legitimately freaked out at how “disturbingly real” places such as Middle-Earth were when they were just some random hills in New Zealand. They couldn’t take it.
Cameron’s answer to this? “Deal with it.”
At the same time, many have audibly gasped with ecstasy upon experiencing the 60 fps spot.
This is where the real dilemma lies—in the audience. It’s not about Hollywood big shots, aggressive filmmakers or annoying critics. If - and only if - the audience can take it, will HFR become the norm. Maybe we will adapt to it like instant tofu and find our balance between pain and pleasure.
But, do you think there really is there a difference? Or is it all in our heads?